The last two seasons under Ernie Kent, Oregon basketball was painfully frustrating to watch because the roster was filled with talented players who were unable to maximize that talent. The Ducks now have the opposite problem. Dana Altman gets every bit of talent out of this team, but there is only so much on the roster. Despite my prediction that they would be run out of the gym. Oregon competed with Washington in Seattle tonight. The Ducks had multiple second half leads. This was a five point game with seven minutes to go. But Oregon finally ran out of gas, and the Isaiah Thomas and Terrance Ross show stepped on the throat and put Oregon away.
The game looked like a boat race early. Oregon came out in a man to man, and Washington quickly used its bigger, longer athletes to exploit and get early buckets both outside from Justin Holiday and inside from Matthew Bryan-Armaring. To boot, the Ducks continued their bad shooting, going around twenty percent for the first ten or so minutes of the game. But, just when it looked like Washington would impose their will with a seven point lead just a few minutes in, the Ducks switched to a zone defense. The zone was very active, both on the press and on the halfcourt, and the Huskies came off the attack and began to settle hoisting the outside jumpers. They made these at a somewhat acceptable clip, but the long rebounds allowed Oregon to begin to run, getting layins and easy buckets at the other end. That's not to say that Oregon made all their easy shots--this is still Oregon after all, and many Ducks, notably Johnathan Loyd and Malcolm Armstead, missed an array of layins and runners this game. Garrett Sim and Jay-R Strowbridge even started hitting jumpers, a welcome sight that I hadn't seen in weeks. Despite a three point barrage by Scott Suggs and Terrance Ross, the Ducks entered halftime down only six--a very respectable performance against UW on the road.
The beginning of the second half was the Joevan Catron show, as Joevan came out and got Oregon's first eleven points of the half until a Loyd three finally gave Oregon its first lead of the game. However, once the Ducks got the lead, it was as if a light bulb went off and UW stopped relying on perimeter jumpers, instead penetrating with Thomas and getting the ball into Bryan-Amaring. While Oregon was able to trade one point leads for about three minutes, Oregon finally went cold, going a four minute stretch without a bucket, and finishing under 40% shooting for the fifth consecutive game. Meanwhile, Washington clamped down defensively, and Ross and Thomas went bonkers from the field and not only put the game away, but made the score more lopsided than the game actually was.
Joevan Catron: Great game by Joevan, who had a double-double with 20 and 10. He is such a different player under Altman, and I still find myself amazed how quick and shifty he is a 245 lbs., and how he uses those tools to get around players that you'd think would be a lot quicker and get shots off. However, he's still short and gets his shot blocked a lot, which mostly explains his 5-14 from the field, but he works so hard that he usually gets it back. He also uses his quickness and handles to get fouled a lot, and he shot a very good 9-10 tonight in addition to hitting two three pointers and a step back jumper that would've made Brandon Roy proud. It was nice to see this performance coming off his struggles in the Arizona series.
E.J. Singler: E.J. wasn't terribly noticible this game, finishing with six points and three boards. He played well on the defensive end, but was never really a focal point of the game offensively.
Garrett Sim: Guys who are supposed to be shooters are nice to have when they can actually shoot, and Sim was on today. 5-7 with two three, and hit a couple of tough shots. 13 points and two assists in 24 minutes was easily Sim's best game of the season.
Johnathan Loyd: 1-8 shooting in what was another really bad day from the field, and a lot of the misses were layups and runners. He has the quick first step, but he has to learn to finish before he can be an effective Pac-10 player.
Malcolm Armstead: Armstead was out of the starting lineup for the first time all season, and responded with his worst game. Only fifteen minutes, no points, three assists, and three turnovers, and didn't seem to have a good idea what he was doing out there. He's really struggling in Altman's system. Neither he nor Loyd deserve to start right now.
Teondre Williams: Another solid effort with seven points, two assists, three boards, and a block in 21 minutes.
Oregon gave it a good run, but Ross and Thomas are just on a different level from any athletes Oregon has. It may have been a different game if Oregon had made their easy shots, but you could say that about most of our games this year.
The Ducks take on Washington State in Pullman Saturday at 7:30 on FSN.